Posts Tagged ‘reissue’

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The Stooges: Fun House (2CD expanded edition)

December 2, 2013

the_stooges_-_fun_house_-_front

Roll: 6-3-11
Album: The Stooges, Fun House (2CD expanded edition)

A lot of people cite The Stooges‘ self-titled, proto-punk/garage rock debut as their best. For others it’s the glam-rock third album, Raw Power, a platter I have never been able to understand the appeal of. I’ve always fallen into the equally vocal third camp—those who understand Fun House (1970) is probably not only their best offering, but is possibly the best album from an era chock-a-block with seminal titles.

Placed against it’s contemporaries, Fun House sounds conspicuously timeless. Great as they might be, albums such as Led Zeppelin III, CCR‘s Cosmo’s Factory, Velvet Underground‘s Loaded, and Curtis by Mr. Mayfield all sound cemented to the knees in their own era. Not only do both albums issued by Sabbath that year sound positively dated in comparison, Fun House makes MC5‘s Back In The USA sound like The Bay City Rollers

Let me say that again. This album makes the god-damned MC5 sound like The Bay City Rollers.

But that’s not the only sacred ground this juggernaut tramples over. The free-jazz freak-out that closes the album, “L.A. Blues“, utterly destroys the idea Coltrane or Pharoah Sanders were fearless cosmic travelers and reveals the borders they stepped back from. It’s simultaneously a sneering condemnation of jazz expressionism being placed on a pedestal and supposed “rock’n’roll” music being made palatable for suburban living room stereos. It’s like The Stooges understood that The Who were best while destroying their instruments for shock value and all they needed was a saxophonist having a seizure to make it art. They also clued-in that Coltrane just needed a blown-out Marshall stack to make Ascension punk rock.

Not that Fun House doesn’t have it’s share of late-60’s psychedelic trappings—wah-wah abounds in a way that, until recently, would have been seen as a trifle old fashioned. Perhaps that’s what makes the album feel so fresh. When today’s young psychedelic rockers look to the past, they’re not looking to Zeppelin, Sabbath, and Floyd (and certainly not Hendrix or The Doors), they’re looking to tunes like “T.V. Eye” and VU’s “Sister Ray“—equally as psychedelic as “Dazed and Confused” but with a stripped-down, stream-lined, modern approach that time rolls off of like water on the proverbial duck’s back.

If these tunes sound dated at all, it’s how they sound like Mudhoney or early Nirvana could have recorded them twenty years later. Or Human Eye and Destruction Unit a full 43 years later.

The second disc of this expanded re-issue  doesn’t offer up any surprises, or previously unheard compositions, but it does toss in some nice treats such as a nearly 12-minute version of the title track in among a plethora of alternative takes of every song except, unfortunately, “L.A. Blues”. These alternates range from trashy to messy, but are all of surprisingly decent quality, even when they shudder to a halt. Like many reissues, the essentiality of the second disc comes down to weather or not if you always felt the original album was far too short at 36 minutes and change in length. An unquestionable high-water mark for punk, psychedelia and just plain rock’n’roll in general, you can decide if you require another 70 minutes of material after you listen below…

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Jesus and Mary Chain: Darklands (1987)

October 11, 2013

darklands

Roll: 3-9-16
Album: Jesus and Mary Chain, Darklands — 2011 2CD/1DVD reissue

Until Stoned and Dethroned (1994) came out, Darklands (1987) was always my least favourite Jesus and Mary Chain record. It didn’t deliver what I wanted from JAMC. Sure, “Happy When It Rains“, boasts the mechanical post-modern rock’n’roll sound I loved on Automatic (1989), but not to the same extent; like it was a demo for that later album’s whole sound. But more importantly, and more detrimentally, Darkands famously abandons the “savage noise-pop” of Psychocandy (1985). To me Darklands was always a sort of nebulous, half-formed, netherworld of an album. So, in a way, one of their most aptly titled collections.

Over the years I’ve remained eternally hopeful and every time I listen to Darklands I expect to hear something in it I’d previously missed. Some hint of the magic and brilliance that’s been ascribed to it by music journalists, fans and bloggers in the years since it’s release. And though I’ll admit it never sounds as bad as I remember, I’ve never been able to hear it as other than a lethargic, boring mid-tempo folk-rock record marred by some pretty glaringly cheesy ’80s production.

I’ve never been sure if it’s just the song arrangements that never worked for me, but the John Hughes-style drum machines really don’t help matters. And I normally love me some grandiose ’80s drum machines, yet somehow I’ve always felt they sound entirely out of place on Darklands. To my ears, the album begs for an organic Sam Phillips/Sun Studio-style production. The songs are essentially a post-punk take on The Everly Brothers and deserve a more human touch.

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Medicine: The Buried Life (1993)

August 8, 2013

Medicine Buried Life artwork

Roll: 4-2-15
Album: Medicine: The Buried Life (2CD reissue)

In my previous post on Lilys I detailed how in 1992, late to the party, I got the shoegaze bug. Once I was infected, I started dosing myself with all the albums where My Bloody Valentine were mentioned in the reviews. Taking this metaphor to its logical conclusion, I should now say Medicine‘s The Buried Life was the cure for my new affliction but, if anything, the album made me a terminal case.

In 1988, if some reviewer was going to describe MBV’s Isn’t Anything, they might have said it was a combination of Cocteau Twins’ dreamy atmospherics and The Jesus and Mary Chain‘s primitive white-noise pop. That would be an apt appraisal but it even better describes the extremes of Medicine’s music.

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Jesus and Mary Chain: Psychocandy (2CD+DVD)

November 18, 2011

Jesus and Mary Chain PsychocandyRoll: 3-2-13
Album: Jesus and Mary Chain, Psychocandy

My introduction to The Jesus and Mary Chain wasn’t the seminal noise-pop classic,  Psychocandy, but their third studio effort, Automatic (1989). It was the tape I bought after a girl named Thai showed me their singles and B-sides compilation, Barbed Wire Kisses (1988). It sounded pretty good to me, especially the catchy head-nodder “Sidewalking.” But what I immediately gravitated to wasn’t Mary Chain’s natural strengths—Phil Spector by way of a jet engine factory—but the deep, distorted guitars mixed with tight, mechanized, drum machine beats. It’s the sound producer Alan Moulder took to the extreme on Automatic. I didn’t know it at the time but I was really looking for Ministry‘s Land of Rape and Honey, and not Mary Chain at all. I’d figure it out a few months later.

I also don’t think I particularly cared for Mary Chain’s screeching-train-wheels aesthetic. I liked my noise beaten into submission and not allowed to roam dangerously free. It’d be a few years before I really began to appreciate and enjoy truly  “industrial” music. And I certainly didn’t like anything that sounded like a ’60s girl-group song my parents might have danced to at the hop. I’d already had my dalliance with golden era rock’n’roll a few years earlier with La Bamba and now it just sounded old and lame.

But industrial noise and golden era rock’n’roll are, of course, what Psychocandy is all about. Or, as Jim Reid says in the liner notes for this reissue, “wouldn’t it be great if Einsturzende Neubauten had Shangri-Las songs—why doesn’t somebody do that, let’s do that!”

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